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Lot 315*
Irma Stern (South African, 1894-1966) 'The backyard', Irma Stern's house at Rosebank, Cape Town
Sold for £193,250 (US$ 324,818) inc. premium
Lot Details
Irma Stern (South African, 1894-1966)
'The backyard', Irma Stern's house at Rosebank, Cape Town
bears Grosvenor Gallery exhibition label (verso)
oil on canvas
78 x 69.3cm (30 11/16 x 27 5/16in).


    London, Grosvenor Gallery, Irma Stern Memorial Exhibition, 14 March - 15 April 1967, no.17, illustrated

    Behind the white expanse of The Firs, Irma Stern's home and studio for 38 years, a woman - presumably Stern's housemaid - bends to retrieve another piece of laundry. Significantly, though the objects and interiors of The Firs can be glimpsed in several of Stern's paintings, the external view presented by the present lot is highly unusual.

    Trees in the middle and at the edges of the picture plane provide a compositional unity to the picture, their leaves just turning from late summer greens to the promise of autumn ahead. This autumnal palette is picked up in the browns, yellows and ochres of roof tiles and chimney pots, while in the centre of the image, a bright orange sartorial splash of colour swings on the washing line.

    The work was included in the Irma Stern Memorial Exhibition at London's Grosvenor Gallery in 1967 entitled Backyard, and illustrated in the accompanying catalogue. The exhibition, noting her acclaim in South Africa, was a formal assertion that a range of works from her dynamic career should be shown to an international audience, as described in the catalogue essay:

    "In South Africa she became accepted as the most important single artist [sic] born and active in the country. Indeed because of her success in South Africa, London and other major art centres were denied the opportunity of seeing her work regularly during her life time. This exhibition, therefore, whilst noting that Irma Stern was a great South African and a painter of special historical importance in her own country, makes the claim that she deserves to be seen and evaluated on a wider horizon. Here then is the first opportunity to study works covering her entire artistic life..."

    We are grateful to Christopher Peter for his assistance in cataloguing this lot.

    Irma Stern Memorial Exhibition, exhibition catalogue, (London, 1967)

Saleroom notices

  • This work is signed and dated 'Irma Stern / 1925' (lower right)
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